Thursday, November 28, 2013

I am Thankful For...

I have many things to be thankful for. I am thankful for a savior. I am thankful I have a wonderful family and great true friends. I am thankful for a warm bed on these cold nights. I am thankful that I have plenty to eat... 
All of these things are true and important but today my heart is especially thankful for this little girl. 
I am thankful for the chance our family has to sponsor her. I am thankful for the relationship we have been able to form with her. I am thankful to have been invited into her life. I am thankful for the opportunity to love her.

We have been blessed over the past two years to be able to sponsor Faviola. We met her two years ago on our first of the three trips to Honduras.
She is shy at first but curious. She wants to get us to know but keeps her distance at first.
This most recent trip it was such a blessing to watch her be drawn to Adam. I wish, if for no other reason, we could bring her home so she could learn the love of an earthly father... one who would teach her about the love of our heavenly father.

Her Grandmother who cooks at the orphanage told Adam "She has no father. You are her father." With tears in his eyes Adam humbly yet assuredly nodded and said "Yes, Mam." Those two words weren't uttered without thought or meaning. I can say that Adam feels responsible for Faviola and he takes those words seriously. I can also say we, the kids and I, feel responsible for her. Pierson and Maylin call her their heart sister and still can't seem understand why we don't just bring her home with us.
Even though she will most likely always live in Puerto Lempira she is part of our family. We all feel responsible for her.
I can't begin to explain what a privilege it is to be her Madrina (aka Godmother). Two years ago I would have told you sponsoring a child was cool. I probably would have given the "it is great to know you are helping a child in poverty" speech.
And then we met Faviola and we became her sponsors.
 Having her be a part of our lives is as much of a blessing to us as we could possibly be to her. Having her in our lives forces us to think outside ourselves. It has taught my children to be aware of more than just their material comfort.
Having her in our lives has brought purpose.
It has brought purpose even more than just making sure Faviola has clothes to wear and food to eat. We personally want to make sure her orphanage, the place she lives, has everything it needs to provide a healthy, safe life for she and her housemates.  (I know we aren't alone in this venture. There are many from our church who sponsor kids there... we have all adopted them and are working together to make this facility awesome!).
Adam with his girls.
One day we went swimming with the kids. A few of them wandered up stream (Maylin included). Adam ventured up to bring them back... Above was the train of wanderers making their way back downstream.)
Faviola giving her Padrina (Godfather) rabbit ears.
Her smile just melts my heart.
Slyly reaching to take Adam's hat! She's funny!
I love this girl to pieces. I don't speak her language and I only see her once a year but she is our girl and always will be. There is just no other option.
We plan to send her to school. We plan make sure she has all she needs. We plan to see her through until she doesn't need our financial support anymore. And then we'll just be there to see her through life. I hope to see her grow up and start a career. I hope to see her get married and start a family of her own. I have lot's of hopes for her but mostly... I just want to be there.
We gave her a doll when we came. A few days after the fact someone told me to walk back to the girls room and see what was going on. I walked back and there in the room she and a few other girls had a blanket spread out on the floor and were playing with her doll. They all grinned and giggled when they saw me watching them... My heart was happy.
Pitching in to help us paint the iron security bars for their windows.
Heart sisters forever.
Helping her grandmother carry lunch.
That's the grin I love! The shy yet sweet, sweet grin.
She and her doll Consuelo.
(I love the heart4heart dolls. World Vision gets part of the proceeds!)

I know I blogged about this previously but being there to take her to the dentist was such an honor... even if she was mad at me for a while. ;)

Giving her some new clothes and life staples.
Our heart family.
Faviola we love you and on this Thanksgiving day we want you to know we are thankful for you!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

A Day at the Dentist: Honduras

The House of Hope, where we lodge in Puerto Lempira, was started by a dentist from Allen, TX.  It is a great facility with a home for orphans, a dental clinic and lodging for missionary teams. 
This year our team was there at the same time as a dental team. What a blessing that turned out to be!

 There was Summer who is a hygienist, Terri a Dentist and Terri's husband Rob. They were awesome!
Wednesday of that week it was agreed that we could bring all of Mama Tara's kids over to have their teeth cleaned/worked on. We were to bring them six at a time. 

That afternoon Adam and I took the second group of kids 
Four of the kids in our group were new to Mama Tara's and had probably never seen a dentist. Judging by the looks of their mouths they had quite likely never seen a toothbrush.

Faviola, our sponsored daughter, was one of the seven in our group. 
She agreed to go to the dentist if Adam and I went with her but still she wasn't happy about going.
The mile walk to the House of Hope seemed a lot longer that afternoon because they just weren't excited to get there. I ended up carrying one child almost the whole way! Yeah, it was a long walk!
Maylin holding Faviola's hand on the way to the dentist. It is fair to say that Maylin learned an important lesson in why you brush your teeth EVERY day! 
Adam Trying to help keep this little one calm.
 This precious girl was the first in the chair. From what I understood of her life story she had been hit by a truck before she ended up at Mama Tara's and her teeth were badly damaged as a result. She had to have 6 teeth pulled. It was not pretty... she screamed and cried and fought with everything she had which did not give confidence to the rest of the children waiting their turn.

 When she was finally done. They sat her up on a stool to bite on gauze but she was so exhausted from screaming and crying that she was falling asleep while sitting up. It was heartbreaking to watch. She eventually staggered over to the other dental chair, crawled up and fell fast asleep.  She stayed there for a long time. None of us had the heart to move her.
There is a lot going on in this picture. Adam is comforting two girls, one in the chair, one on his lap. He is making jokes with a little boy, while one sweet little one sleeps off the trauma of having 6 teeth pulled.  There is another keeping her distance trying to figure out what was about to happen to her.
And so it continued... Child after child, that is just how we rolled.
 Then it was Faviola's turn in the hygienist's chair. I sat by her side and held her hands trying to comfort her/keep her from reaching for the dental tools. At the same time I held a sleepy little boy and tried to get him to nap. He was definitely more interested in watching than sleeping.

 Faviola wasn't a fan of getting her teeth cleaned but she did a good job. She was brave. Even when she saw the blood she stayed brave.  I was so proud of her and so sad for her at the same time.
(I have to give credit to this dental team! They were so patient and sooo kind with the children!)

 If I remember correctly, of the 5 kids in our group who actually made it to the dentist chair that day 12 teeth were pulled. From what I could see there seemed to be much more work that could be done.  But how? If you pull all the rotten teeth what quality of life do they have? If you leave the infected teeth the kids continue to be in pain...
There was MUCH screaming, crying, hand holding and hugging this day.  Believe me the crying wasn't just from the children. It was heartbreaking to see inside their mouths. Many of their molar teeth were rotten to the gum, infected and gray. The smell of infection was strong. Before this day I didn't know what an infected tooth smelled like... I do now.
At one point Summer, the hygienist, even had to get up, step into the closet and cry. It was traumatic.

 Perhaps the most heartbreaking for me personally was after Faviola, our sponsored daughter, got out of the dentist's chair. (she had one tooth pulled.) She sat up and told me she was mad at me. She said it in Spanish but I understood enough to know what she was saying and she meant it.
I could see the look of hurt and question in her eyes as if she were questioning why I would allow this to happen to her. My heart sank because I feared the trust we had developed had all just vanished in that dental clinic.
How was I to communicate to her that I loved her and that is why we took her there. How do you explain to a child who doesn't speak your language that this temporary pain was for her own good.  Just as my heart sunk and tears welled up in my own eyes she said again "I am mad" however this time she slumped off the edge of her chair, into my arms and cried.
 ...I'd be lying if I said I didn't cry too.

While it was a heartbreaking situation it was beautiful to be able to hold her and comfort her. I knew in that moment that she was probably still mad at me but she still trusted me enough to let me comfort her. My heart was full of so many emotions... Joy that she trusted me, sadness that she was in pain, Joy that for just a few moments I got to give her the comfort of a mother, deep sadness that in a few days I had to leave her yet again.
 This little beauty sat outside and waited her turn patiently. (She is one of the new children who's teeth were in very bad shape) When it was nearing her turn Adam went out and sat beside her. As he sat there she began to cry... she began to wail.
She was terrified. She leaned on Adam's lap and cried and cried and cried.
He tried to comfort her but there was nothing to be said. She had heard the cries of the other children, members of her own family. She understood what was to come...
While she didn't end up in the chair that day, thankfully, she did come back the next morning with Linda, the house mother at Mama Tara's, and got the needed work done.
So it began the next day... The remaining children got their teeth cleaned, filled and/or pulled.
This was an experience that forever bonded my heart with those children.
It was emotionally exhausting, sad, and painful to watch yet it was such a privilege to be trusted enough to comfort them.

Now each time I brush my teeth or urge my kids to brush their teeth I think of these children. I think of them and pray they have enough tooth paste. I pray they have a clean toothbrush. I pray they are brushing their teeth and that they are now free of pain.

In this Thanksgiving season I am thankful for the House of Hope as well as Summer and Terri! May we all be thankful for our dentists!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


I love this picture even though it isn't the "best" group photo. 

One day while standing near the fire burning the trash and I looked up and saw these precious kids... and it struck me. There perfectly gathered together were 5 children, not just any five children though...  Each of these beautiful children, adopted themselves were there on the grounds of an orphanage learning to love and serve orphans...
Does it get more beautiful than that?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Honduras: Pedro

We have been home a little over a week now. I haven't blogged yet, obviously. I have been collecting my thoughts and trying to wrap my head around it.
This is our third time in Honduras. I should be an old pro at this right? In a way that is true. However the relationships are what's making the difference. We are beginning to get to know the kids a bit more each year. And that is BEAUTIFUL.
As I begin to blog about this trip I am going to focus on several individuals who impacted me. This day I am going to focus on Pedro (his nickname).
This sweet boy is just as silly and fun as his picture. He is a bright light in Puerto Lempira. His positive attitude is contagious.  He welcomed our team and my kids from day one. He let us know we fit right in his circle of friends and the H of H. 
Pedro stays at the orphanage we lodged in for the week. My kids particularly became buddies with him. He had such a sweet spirit. He was kind and respectful.
 He was always in the middle of the fun and ALWAYS had this smile on his face.
Three of the local children homes came to play with us and have a picnic on the first day. One of the games we played involved children putting their faces in flour! :) Pedro was right there in the middle of it! 

It always amazes me how quickly the children accept we strangers into their community and are quick to laugh with us. Particularly the H of H kids. Their facility is set up to house short term missionary teams. Because of this they are constantly seeing new faces. I for one would probably get a little tired of meeting new friends and seeing them leave, over and over again! At some point I think it would be easier for me to stop 'accepting' the new faces and just ignore them... just go on about my day as if there weren't a bunch of strangers staying across the yard. If you don't get to know them you don't have to say goodbye. Right? 
Certainly there are a few who do that but for the most part they are eager to become our friends. 
This week Pierson and Pedro became just that... Friends. 
It was beautiful. In the evenings the grown ups gathered together for devotions. The first several nights my kids participated, but one evening several of the children who live at the H of H were asking to play with Pierson and Maylin as our team was gathering. 
I could have said, "No they have to come to devotions." In fact I almost did. But in a split second I had an revelation... I think my kids and the H of H kids would learn more about love and devotion if they were doing what kids do so I let them. Pierson and Maylin took their sketch books and colored pencils and while the grown ups 'devoted' the children passed the books around taking turns coloring pictures. They got to know each other... They fellowshiped with one another... I have to think this is what Jesus would have done. 
This continued to happen most nights. Such sweet kids, such sweet friendships. 

If we lived closer to Pedro he is the type of boy I would want to encourage Pierson to befriend. He is one of those kids I wouldn't mind coming over to play each day. He is the kid I would invite to dinner. Pedro is sweet and gentle. He is respectful and kind. He is fun and adventurous... 

I could go on and on about his sweet personality but I think you get the point, however there is something about Pedro I haven't told you yet and I purposely haven't... I didn't want to describe him to you by his physical appearance or his handicap... 
1. I don't think he would appreciate it. 
2. I don't think that would be the way Pierson would describe him even though it is the first thing you see
3. There is SOOO much more to Pedro than the fact that he only has one leg.
 Recently Pedro lost his leg to cancer. You would never know that it was recent because he gets around AMAZINGLY well. His spirit is amazing which just adds to his overall likability! I personally never saw him seem frustrated or slowed down the slightest by his handicap. I never saw him use his handicap for sympathy or for attention. He just was Pedro without excuse.
Honestly maybe his handicap is more of a handicap for me emotionally than it is for him physically. It is easy to want to feel sorry for him but I am pretty sure he would not like this!
 Each morning and evening Pedro was right in the middle of things.
It was beautiful to watch his friends treat him just like one of the others. It was also refreshing to watch those same kids give him a helping hand and make sure he was safe.

This next series of pictures warms my heart.
 Pedro was pedaling his 'wheelchair' up this mound of dirt when several of the other kids came to assist him, not really in getting up the hill but making sure that he didn't tumble down the other side.

 And he was off. Beautiful testimony of all these children.

 Only once did I see him staying back watching the other children play basketball. He never pouted or got angry, he just watched.
But he didn't stay down for long. In an instant he was back at it. Rain or shine nothings gonna stop Pedro. 
 Perseverance at its finest. May we all have the joy and determination of Pedro.

Our last night with Pedro. Yes my eyes are red from tears...
Again Pierson stayed out of devotions to draw with the other kids. When devotions were finished we came out to check on the kids. All of them except Pedro had gone to bed. Pierson was asleep on the porch with Pedro sitting by his side stroking his hair as if he were there to take care of him until Adam or I came to get him. I woke Pierson up and we talked to Pedro for a few minutes before we walked him across the yard to go to bed. 
This Momma sobbed uncontrollably as I watched him walk into the dimly lit corridor because I wanted to be able to take Pedro to his room and tuck him into bed. I wanted to read him a book and kiss his forehead goodnight. I wanted to hold his hand until he fell asleep. I wanted him to know just how special he is. This little caregiver needs his own caregiver. Instead he was walking into a dark room to put himself to bed to sooth himself to sleep. 
Does he know how valuable he is? Does he know what a blessing he is to others around him? I don't know. What I do know is that Pierson prays for him every night. At first he innocently prayed that Pedro's leg would grow back. Now we pray that he is eligible for a prosthetic leg. (We were told that they had to take so much of his leg that there may not be enough room to attach a prosthetic. We were also told they don't even know if they got all of the cancer.) Yet another reason it was so incredibly hard to leave him in Puerto Lempira. The government "hospital" there is on the verge of shutting down because they have no supplies, no medicines... 
Please pray with us for Pedro. Pray that he gets a leg. Pray that the cancer is GONE. Pray he knows and feels the love of our Savior!